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Ceremonie, La

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Virginie Ledoyen
  • Directors: Claude Chabrol
  • Writers: Claude Chabrol, Caroline Eliacheff, Ruth Rendell
  • Producers: Christoph Holch, Ira von Gienanth, Marin Karmitz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: July 27 2004
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00026L7MW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,617 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

In the 1960s and early '70s, Claude Chabrol was celebrated as the Gallic Hitchcock for his crisp, character-rich thrillers. La Cérémonie, his 1997 hit adapted from Ruth Rendell's novel A Judgement in Stone, is a return to form, an assured domestic drama set in the upper-class household of the kind but condescending Lelievres family. Sandrine Bonnaire, excellent in an enigmatic, uncommunicative role, stars as their new, neurotically silent maid Sophie. She performs her duties efficiently and emotionlessly, staring out from behind an implacable, mask-like face born of loneliness and defensiveness. Isabelle Huppert is the town's gleefully misanthropic postmistress Jeanne, a gossipy, energetically insolent misfit who hates the Lelievres. When she becomes Sophie's best friend, her pathological game of taunts and gossip goes into overdrive with her sudden access to their house, and an already simmering class conflict boils over in unleashed anger. Chabrol charts the cascade of mischief and misunderstandings to its shattering conclusion, with a sensitivity to character and an eagle-eyed remove that makes the explosive climax all the more chilling. It's a devastating thriller, one of Chabrol's best, and a powerful portrait in hate and psychosis pushed over the edge in misunderstanding, manipulation, and mistrust. Jacqueline Bisset is the fumbling but sincere Mme. Lelievres, Jean-Pierre Cassel her complacent husband, and Virginie Ledoyen (A Single Girl) their sensitive young daughter. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: DVD
This is about Sophie (Sandrine Bonaire), who has applied to be the maid for Catherine Lelievre (Jacqueline Bisset) and her family. She has a son from a previous marriage and hubby Georges has a daughter from his. They live in a huge house on the outskirts of an end of the line town in France. She is given the job of looking after the whole family, as well as cleaning and cooking for them. They initially come across as considerate, offering to pay for driving lessons etc, but soon they just seem to treat her like a slave.

Then she meets the girl from the Post Office - Jeanne played by Isabel Huppert, who has a passionate dislike for the whole rotten family and starts to awaken the latent hate that is fermenting in Sophie. The other thing is they both have a past, and their pasts are achingly similar. Sophie also is covering up for the fact that she is illiterate and seems ashamed about it.

As the restrictions on her bring into focus the simmering resentment of certain members of the family, things are going to inevitably come to a head. This French film was made in 1995 and has been re released on DVD in the UK and I am rather glad that it has. This was one of those films where not a lot appears to happen, when in actual fact all the nuances of the mundane and ordinary are all building up a tapestry that will conclude with the final acts of the protagonists. It is just a brilliant film, where every single performance is so convincing without seeming to try and it had me absolutely transfixed for the duration, seriously I can not recommend highly enough.
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Format: VHS Tape
Perfect casting contributes to the intense momentum that Chabrol develops in this archetypal tale (for Chabrol) of upper middle class rude luxe and working class desperation. Sandrine Bonnaire is the soft-spoken girl whom Jacqueline Bisset, the idly rich wife of a well-to-do industrialist, hires as the family's housekeeper. Bonnaire's character is hiding a secret from the family which is gradually revealed.
In the course of that revelation, Bonnaire befriends the town postmistress, brilliantly played by Isabelle Huppert, who is essentially incapable of rendering a bad performance in any work she appears in. Huppert's postmistress is the opposite in character to Bonnaire's wallflower. Brash, intense, and happy to flaunt authority, the postmistress encourages the housekeeper to express herself, to break out of her shell regardless of the secret she wishes no one to know about, to enjoy life even without the wealth that Bonnaire's employers have and that Huppert resents so vehemently.
As the housekeeper comes to trust the postmistress more and more, and, based on that, becomes more assertive, the postmistress tells her what she really wants. The psychological interplay between these two characters is done so superbly that the tremendously shocking ending is completely credible and all the more powerful for it.
The film's setting, a small rural French town, also contributes to its power, and is an equally superb choice that subtly underlines the contrast of the highly educated wealthy who retreat from the world, and the street smart working class who make the world what it is--in particular, foisting it when and where they can on their bitter rivals, the rich, for position in the world they know.
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Format: VHS Tape
In the sixties Chabrol was known as the French master of suspense or the French Hitchcock. With 1968' La Femme Infidele & 1969's Le Boucher he was at the peak of his form. he made a few good pictures in the early seventies like La Rupture and Wedding in Blood but his work of the latter half of the seventies and eighties(with one notable exception, Cry of the Owl) was uneven and sometimes just forgettable. Then in the nineties Chabrol made a steady comeback and made what is perhaps the best movie of his career and one of the best films by anyone in the nineties with La Ceremonie. The Hitchcock influence is still there but Chabrol has evolved it into something completely his own. La Ceremonie has a plot which could best be described perhaps as a mystery but there are so many well drawn characters that the film transcends the normal bounds of that genre. Its a first rate drama with three incredible leading actresses. Jaqueline Bisset has never been better or better looking than here as the ex-model and current society wife who hires a mysterious maid with a vacant stare and uncertain past. That maid is played by France's top actress Sandrine Bonnaire and her every move is captivating. Isabelle Huppert plays the pig tailed postal employee who befriends Bonnaire and the two create onscreen magic together. Chabrol's brand of mystery puts character over plot so though you have an intereting plot unfolding you are in no hurry to get there. The wealthy family that Bonnaire works for(Bisset, husband and two children) are each given at least one interesting dimension and subplot line of their own to make this one rich movie experience. A movie you will feast on more than once. Chabrol endings are highly original and you never see them coming so sit back and enjoy with full knowledge you are being entertained by a master.
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